Three Chatham major road projects in final draft of DOT transportation plan

Posted 8/15/19

More than 1,700 road projects statewide are included in the N.C. Dept. of Transportation’s final draft of its 2020-2029 Statewide 10-Year Transportation Plan — also known as STIP — and three of …

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Three Chatham major road projects in final draft of DOT transportation plan

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More than 1,700 road projects statewide are included in the N.C. Dept. of Transportation’s final draft of its 2020-2029 Statewide 10-Year Transportation Plan — also known as STIP — and three of them will make an impact in Chatham County within the next few years.

Two of the projects will center around U.S. Hwy. 15-501 and its intersection with U.S. Hwy. 64 Business, while the other will fundamentally change a point of entry for Siler City.

Division 8 Engineer Brandon Jones said the DOT is “committed to delivering projects that make travel safer and more efficient.”

“Projects included in the draft transportation improvement plan reflect that commitment and will benefit our communities for decades to come,” he said in a press release.

The most expensive is the latter project, with DOT saying it plans to pour in more than $23 million to a three-mile stretch of East 11th Street from North Glenn Avenue to east of U.S. Hwy. 421. The funds will be used to upgrade the roadway to include a median for access control and install sidewalks, crosswalks, bicycle lanes and/or a multi-use side path.

The STIP said the DOT has already spent more than $4 million on project, which is slated to finish in fiscal year 2024. According to Aaron Moody, a communications officer with DOT, these types of projects are “pretty common,” particularly in places where accidents happen because of a lack of a median.

“A lot of that (projected work) controls the flow of traffic and prevents situations where cars are pulling out in front of traffic and using open spaces to go left,” Moody said. “Limiting left turns takes some of that factor out. If you’ve got a pedestrian situation there too, that makes it a much more dangerous situation too.”

Another project will construct a total of 4.3 miles of a 6.68-mile stretch of road that Moody said will create a “de facto bypass” around downtown Pittsboro. Two new two-lane roadways — one from Country Routt Brown Road north to U.S. 15-501 and the other from 15/501/N.C. 87 to U.S. 64 Business — will be part of Chatham Park Way.

DOT’s funding for those roads will total more than $33.5 million. The first new road, starting on Country Routt Brown Road which is across the street from Northwood High School north of Pittsboro, will start construction in FY 2022 and finish the next year. The latter project connecting the two highways is projected to start construction in FY 2025 and finish by FY 2027.

The final project is upgrades to a 1.9-mile stretch of U.S. 15-501 from north of U.S. 64 Business to Launis Street, which is across from Chatham Mills, in northern Pittsboro. DOT will mill and resurface the road from north of U.S. 64 to Powell Place Lane and widen the road from Powell Place Lane to Launis Street. From just north of U.S. 64 to just south of it, the STIP says DOT will construct roadway and streetscape improvements.

Construction on this project is expected to be complete by FY 2022 and cost $9.9 million.

Other Chatham-related projects were included in the STIP, but are not guaranteed funding. The final plan is subject to final approval from the State Board of Transportation, which is expected next month.

Moody said projects like those approved for Chatham are graded on a “mobility formula.”

“It essentially grades projects based on a wide, wide, wide variety of criteria,” he said. “You’re going to look at a project for its local benefit, regional benefit and then statewide benefit. Within each of those, you’re going to look at criteria like congestion and benefit vs. the cost, safety improvements, freight and military benefits and accessibility. It’s everything you can think of. Each of those three have slightly different criteria, and they’re each given a percentage.”

Reporter Zachary Horner can be reached at zhorner@chathamnr.com or on Twitter at @ZachHornerCNR.

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